Bus becomes home and business for family of three.
“Be Bold and Seek Adventure” is the motto of Finny Hill Photography, Liz and Mike Byrd’s traveling wedding photography business. They also use the phrase to represent the lifestyle choice they have made for themselves and their nine-year-old son, Bryce.
After Liz spent some time in New Zealand living and working in a camper van as part of a wedding photography assignment, she convinced her husband to give a mobile lifestyle a try. Although Mike admits he was hard to convince at first, the couple eventually purchased a school bus for $2,500 and began the process of converting it into a mobile tiny off-grid tiny home. They did most of the work themselves.
The 35-foot long bus is about eight feet wide and 10 ½ feet tall, including its solar panels. The inside headroom is about six feet, one inch.
“It took us about seven months to convert the bus,” says Mike, who says that the entire process was well out of his comfort zone. “We had to step out and live by our motto, “Be bold and seek adventure,” he says, “and I think we are totally doing that.
” Named “Georgia Blue” for Liz’s maternal grandmother, Georgia, the bus exterior is light blue and white, and it features the business name Finny Hill Photography prominently on its side. Inside, the sparsely decorated but warmly inviting home features shades of blue and other earth tones. “We wanted it to be simple yet functional,” says Mike.
The couple’s photography equipment is stored entirely under the couch, which also serves as Bryce’s bed, and the kitchen/work table folds neatly away when not in use to add extra space.
The kitchen area features a small copper sink – Liz’s personal choice — and ample counter space that allows for plenty of storage room and a small refrigerator to be tucked beneath it. “We’re not big cooks,” says Liz.
Over the wheels are a closet/pantry area on one side and a compost toilet on the other. Bikes and the solar energy system controls are located in the rear of the bus behind the master bedroom, which is really just a bed. “That’s all we need,” comments Liz. Under the bed is more storage for bedding and other items not needed on a daily basis.
The family uses the bus’s original emergency escape hatch on the roof as a convenient way to check on the solar panels, as a skylight for more natural light during the day and as an easy way to view the night sky.
“It’s definitely cozy,” says Liz, commenting on the home’s small spaces and its little touches, such as houseplants and the presence of their large dog, that make the bus feel like a home.“We wanted it to be cozy for Bryce…We didn’t want it to be too much of a stretch for him moving from a house to a bus.”
The family “road schools” Bryce, using travel, adventure, meeting new people and tackling unit studies such as survival skills as part of their curriculum.
Mike estimates that the entire bus conversion cost them about $15,000, including the purchase price of the bus itself. Mike and Liz are still working on their budget, including how much they are saving from living in their previous home, but Liz says they enjoy the freedom of not having a mortgage and other large monthly expenses.
When asked what she would like others to know about their new way of life, Liz responds philosophically, “You don’t have to live the life everyone else is living…We wanted to be intentional with what we were doing, and the decisions we were making, and we really felt we weren’t doing that (before)… Life is precious. You can be bold and seek adventure, and you can do it now.”
To learn more about Liz and Mike’s tiny house on the road, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4p2WMFgTcSw for a video tour and interview by “Living Big in a Tiny House.”
“Business and Home On Wheels”